The Best Sleeping Bag Liners

It really doesn’t matter where or how you are traveling, but if you plan to stay overnight somewhere, be it in a hotel, hostel, a tent or even under the stars, sleeping bag liners are a much overlooked and essential piece of gear. Mainly it’s because they are very light, they pack small (small enough to fit in your pocket), they’re easy to use, easy to wash and clean and serve more purposes than you might imagine. Many people think that they are overkill, just another gimmick to sell to the camping, backpacking, outdoors community. There are many reasons to have a sleeping bag liner as part of your kit, and we will go into more details of the different uses later, but two main uses are as a liner inside a sleeping bag or as travel sheets.

Sea To Summit Reactor
  • Sea To Summit Reactor
  • 4.9 out of 5
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  • Fantastic warmth
  • Price: See Here
Coolmax Adaptor
  • Coolmax Adaptor
  • 4.6 out of 5
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  • Great for warm climates
  • Price: See Here
Premium Silk Travel Liner
  • Premium Silk Travel Liner
  • 4.8 out of 5
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  • Great comfort & value
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Sleeping Bag Liners

 

Sea To Summit Thermolite Reactor Fleece

Primary Material: Microfleece

Rectangular or Mummy: Mummy

Added Temperature: Approx +8oC

Adequate Breathability: Yes

Moisture Wicking Properties: Not stated

Available Colors: Black

Extra Long Size Available: No
Pros

Great from winter to increase sleeping bag warmth

Can be used as a summer sleeping bag on its own

Cons

Bulky compared to others

Coolmax Adaptor

Material: Coolmax Synthetic

Rectangular or Mummy: Tapered Rectangle

Added Temperature: +4-5oC

Breathable: Yes

Moisture wicking: Yes

Colors: Blue

Extra long size available: No
Pros

Improves the warmth of your sleeping bag whilst reducing clammy skin

Good as a sleeping bag in very hot and humid climates

Very lightweight

Packs very small

Cons

Not designed for winter

Sea to Summit Silk Stretch

Material: Silk

Rectangular or Mummy: Both

Added Temperature: +5oC

Breathable: Yes

Moisture wicking: Somewhat

Colors: Navy, Berry, Pacific and eucalyptus

Extra long size available: No
Pros

Improves the warmth of your sleeping bag whilst reducing clammy skin

Good as a sleeping bag in very hot and humid climates

Very lightweight

Cons

Not ideal for winter

Cocoon Silk Rip Stop

Cocoon Silk Rip Stop
Material: Ripstop Silk

Rectangular or Mummy: Both

Added Temperature: +5.3oC

Breathable: yes

Moisture wicking: Somewhat

Colours: Purple/Tuareg

Extra long size available: No
Pros

Improves the warmth of your sleeping bag whilst reducing clammy skin

Good as a sleeping bag in very hot and humid climates

Very lightweight

Packs down very small

Tough and hard wearing

Cons

Not an ideal choice for low temps

Cocoon Egyptian Cotton Liner

Cocoon Egyptian Cotton Liner
Material: Egyptian Cotton

Rectangular or Mummy: Both

Added Temperature: +3.9oC

Breathable: Yes

Moisture wicking: Somewhat

Colours: Laguna Blue, Natural, Khaki, Tuareg

Extra long size available: No
Pros

Good as a sleeping bag in hotter climates.

Very lightweight

Cons

Not a great choice for extreme environments

Cocoon Dual Liner

Cocoon Dual Liner
Material: Ripstop silk and Thermolite Fleece

Rectangular or Mummy: Both

Added Temperature: +6.5oC

Adequate Breathability: Yes

Moisture Wicking Properties: somewhat

Available Colours: Blue

Extra Long Size Available: No
Pros

Great for winter to increase sleeping bag warmth

Can be used as a summer sleeping bag on its own

Cons

Bulky compared to others

Cocoon Thermolite Radiator

Cocoon Thermolite Radiator
Material: Thermolite Fleece

Rectangular or Mummy: Both

Added Temperature: +9oC

Adequate Breathability: Yes

Moisture Wicking Properties: Yes

Available Colours: Lava

Extra Long Size Available: No
Pros

Increases bag warmth for colder weather

Can be used by itself in warmer temps

Cons

Slightly heavier than others on the list

Rab Poly-Cotton liner

Rab Poly-Cotton liner
Material: Polyester Cotton mix

Rectangular or Mummy: Both

Added Temperature: +3oC

Breathablility: Minimal

Moisture Wicking Properties: Minimal

Available Colours: White

Extra Long Size Available: Yes
Pros

Increases the warmth, extending the use of your sleeping bag through lower temps

Okay as a stand alone summer bag

Easily packs into its own stuff sack

Cons

Will not increase warmth enough to make an intermediate bag suitable for extreme cold

Alps Mountaineering Mummy Liner

Alps Mountaineering Mummy Liner
Material: Polyester fleece

Rectangular or Mummy: Rectangle

Added Temperature: +6oC

Breathability: Minimal

Moisture Wicking Properties: No

Available Colors: Charcoal

Extra long size available: No
Pros

Usable on its own in summer

Will increase warmth some

Adds comfort

Cons

Some find it a bit thicker than many others out there

Alps Mountaineering Rectangle liner

Alps Mountaineering Rectangle liner
Material: Microfibre or Poly Cotton

Rectangular or Mummy: Both

Added Temperature: +3oC to 5oC

Adequate Breathability: Somewhat

Moisture Wicking Properties: Somewhat

Available Colors Grey

Extra long size available: No
Pros

Packs down tight

Will add noticeable warmth

Easy to wash

Cons

Not meant for extreme weather conditions


Why A Sleeping Bag Liner?

Why would you want to take your own travel sheets? Maybe the hostel you are staying in is not exactly 5 star and the sheets provided are not very nice, and who knows who slept on them last and when they were last laundered, or maybe your hotel got the booking wrong, or one of a thousand possible ways of you having to stay in the budget hotel down the street. If you have a sleeping bag liner with you at least you know that you can sleep inside something clean and bug-free. And it will not take up any space or any realistic weight in your luggage.

The more traditional use is as a liner for inside your sleeping bag. A good quality sleeping bag is an investment that you spend a tidy sum of money on, and it’s not the easiest of items to clean. I’m sure that your sleeping bag is very clean, and there are no strange smells when you unroll it, definitely no crumbs from midnight snacks, no squashed insect or spiders you rolled on in the night. But unless you have cleaned it after every expedition and trip then it will have a build up of body oils, bits of dead skin and hair. Basically the perfect environment for bed bugs. Most washing machines are either not big enough to hold a sleeping bag and if they are washing a sleeping bag will fill the whole machine, whereas a sleeping bag liner can be washed along with the other day to day laundry items. Much more efficient for you and the environment.

Still not sold on the idea, want a warmer sleeping bag, a bag liner can add 4oC to 8oC of warmth to your sleeping bag, depending on the material used in the liner (more on materials later). Or is it the middle of July or August and a humid +20oC, you don’t want to be in your sleeping bag, but laying outside you are about to become an all you can eat mosquito buffet. Your sleeping bag liners have just become an ultra lightweight summer sleeping bag and depending on the fabric, breathable or with added insect repellent.

 

 

Additional Things To Consider While Shopping Around

As you can see there is a vast choice in sleeping bag liners, and they come in a wide range of types and materials. So how do your choose which you need?

You need to decide on the time of year you will be using the liner. Are you only going to be using it during the spring and summer, in which case a lightweight breathable material is good, or will you be using it in the winter and therefore need it to give the maximum increase in sleeping bag temperature and a fleece fabric might be better. The weight of the fabric may be a concern for you, as well as how small it can be packed, especially if you are going to be backpacking, however, if you camp from the car then the size and weight are probably not and issue.

What is important is that you know the size of your current sleeping bag. If you bUy a liner that is larger than your current sleeping bag then you will experience folds in the liner fabric, these can be uncomfortable, but mainly it enables the liner to cling to you and as you turn over in the night the liner will slowly wrap itself around you and constrict you, like a loving Boa constrictor. Is your sleeping bag rectangular or a mummy bag? If it is a mummy bag do you want your liner to have a hood or is the hood of the mummy enough?

With rectangular bags do you want a pillow pocket to insert a pillow, Is a side zip important for ease of access?

Materials

What material or fabrics should I look for? This one really depends on your personal preference, but should also be chosen based on the most likely type and frequency of use.

Silk

Silk is a natural fabric woven from the cocoon of silk worms. It is very lightweight and feels luxurious next to the skin. Silk offers excellent insulation properties, due to its low conductivity. But it is absorbent and will soak up moisture (moisture wicking) and allow this moisture to evaporate, which makes it great in hot and humid climates, as well as cooler climates. Silk is relatively strong but will loose a lot of its strength when wet so care needs to be taken when washing the material. Because of the manufacturing process to obtain silk, the cost of this fabric and items made from it are generally higher than other fabrics.

Silk-Cotton Blend

As the name suggest is a silk and cotton blended fabric. The main idea is to reap the benefits of both fabrics. Silk cotton blends often have the same silky feel as pure silk and the increased strength. However, the insulation properties are lower than pure silk. In hot and humid climates Silk Cotton blends still offer good absorption and moisture wicking, enabling the wearer to remain cool through the breathability of the fabric.

Cotton and Egyptian cotton

Cotton liners are probably the most common. Cotton is a cost effective fabric and a lot less expensive compared to silk. Cotton is great in hot humid climates and allows breathability and absorption and moisture wicking, but in terms of insulation, Cotton is a long way behind silk. Cotton liners are also heavier and do not pack as small as silk.

Egyptian cotton is not necessarily from Egypt but nowadays refers to the quality of the cotton thread. Egyptian cotton is a different plant than standard cotton and this along with the fact that Egyptian cotton is hand picked changes its properties compare to standard cotton. Egyptian cotton has longer and finer strands or threads meaning that 1 square centimeter will contain more threads and as such feel finer on the skin and be more flexible and stronger. Egyptian cotton is slightly more porous than standard cotton and as such means, it is slightly more breathable than standard cotton. Expect to pay a premium for Egyptian cotton. It is worth comparing the thread count of the fabric if such information is available, this will give you an idea on the quality of the cotton. The high the tread count per cm square the better the cotton.

Cotton do not insulate as well as silks, although the higher the thread count the better the insulation will be.

Synthetics

Man made fabrics designed for a specific purpose. Some are excellent moisture wickers and breathable, such as CoolMax, others designed for excellent insulation as Thermolite fabrics are. The advantage of these is they are generally strong and easy to wash and clean. They will certainly do what they are designed for whether that is insulated or be breathable. It is worth considering these and checks if they are stretchable. Being stretchable will mean less chance of you becoming wrapped up tight because you toss and turn a lot in your sleep.  

Wool Liners

Wool liners and Merino wool liners are excellent insulators, and in the case of Merino wool feel nice next to the skin. The main disadvantage is the size and weight of these.

Treated fabrics

Some liners come with special treatments and coating, such an insect repellent treatments which are useful if you are using then liner as a summer sleeping bag.

Washing your liners

You need to keep your sleeping bag liners clean, if not you are somewhat defeating the object of a liner to keep you and your sleeping bag clean. Most liners are machine washable, but care must be taken if your liner has draw strings or cords as these can get tangled in the washing machine and damage the liner. It is not always practical to remove these drawstrings, but something as simple as folding and knotting the strings and washing the liners inside a pillow case or a washing sock bag will help protect your liner from damage in the machine. All modern soaps and detergents are fine with the majority of liners however I would advise against fabric softeners or all in one detergent. Fabric softener can impeed the breathability of the fabric and its ability or absorb moisture. Most manufacturers recommend drying the liners in natural air. This helps to ensure that the liner maintains its breathability.

The table below gives you a guide on the added temperature and approximate weight of sleeping bag liners made out of the listed materials.

Material Added temperature weight
Silk +5.3 °C 160 g
Silk-Cotton +4.8°C 220 g
Egyptian Cotton +3.9°C 260 g
Microfiber +3.0 °C 290 g
CoolMax +4.7°C 305 g
Thermolite Silk weight +6.3 °C 195 g
Dual Liner +6.5°C 355 g
Thermolite Performer +7.0°C 340 g
Thermolite Radiator +9.0 °C 460 g
Cotton +2.9 °C 410 g
Organic Cotton +2.9°C 460 g
Cotton Flannel +6.7°C 530 g
Merino Wool +7.0°C 600 g
Micro fleece Lightweight +6.2 °C
Micro fleece Medium weight +8.0 °C 910 g